That Nature Show: The Crafty, Cunning, Backyard Squirrel

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Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons. Photo by Tom Friedel.
Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons. Photo by Tom Friedel.

This is the fourth in our new weekly column, That Nature Show, about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks!  Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.

The squirrels I have are not normal creatures of the woodland. They’re not timid or trembling. But more like their distant cousin, the terrifyingly named Mountain Beaver. This is what makes science so awesome. I can say Mountain Beaver.

My squirrels gnawed a hole in the Big Hulky reinforced plastic garbage can that was specifically advertised as “squirrel proof.” Lesson learned. From now on I want you to imagine that, when I am using the words “squirrel proof,” I am making  gigantic oversized ironic air-quotes in the air around my head.

Everything sold to you as “squirrel proof” is a “rip off.” There is no such thing. Except maybe the ocean, or metal. And I have even seen evidence of their ravenous teeth scraping on my metal garbage cans. They are turbo vermin.

Squirrels are so wily because they have great eyesight (a necessity in the wilderness for which they are adapted, leaping from branch to branch high up in the trees) and they have powerful small rodentine teeth that are always growing, strong nails (I might call them talons) and agile little paws that can touch everything you own.

I can’t beat them, so I’ve let them become my entertainment. (In case you were wondering: yes, I am a cheap date.)

I greased the bird feeder pole with cooking spray and watched them slide down it, while my family ate popcorn and clapped delightedly. But of course now the oil has congealed and is sticky and it’s easier than ever for them to climb. Damn squirrels!

I have a fond memory of my grandfather (an otherwise very Presbyterian gentleman) taking aim at squirrels in the backyard with a neon orange zebra-striped 80s Blammozooka double barreled water gun and never once hitting even the barn door and my grandmother in her housecoat yelling, “Walter! Desist! They are all God’s creatures!”

I haven’t decided whose side I’m on.



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